After a busy day 2 that saw showdowns and upsets, day 3 didn’t feel as though it had quite as much of a buildup as the day prior at this meet. This meet heated-up in a hurry as the end of the session neared, though, when the last two events saw a World Record and a big upset of an American relay by a country that has never before seen a relay podium at a World Championship.
Men’s 50 Back – SEMIFINAL
Russia’s Stanislav Donets, the defending champion, and Australia’s Robert Hurley had a good view of each other coming off of the turn in the 2nd heat of this men’s 50 backstroke, and they matched touches exactly in 23.14 to share the top seed headed into Saturday’s final.
Brazil’s Guilherme Guido broke his own South American Record with a 23.27 for 3rd place; the old mark of 23.31 was set at Brazil’s Torneio Open de Natacao in early November.
American Matt Grevers is the only U.S. to make the final with a 23.50 for 7th. The other American, Ben Hesen, was 10th in 23.67. Spaniard Aschwin Wildeboer disappointingly missed his second-straight final after falling out in the semi’s of the 100 as well. He medal’ed in both distances in 2010.
Women’s 100 Free – FINAL
Sprinters will never sleep well at night knowing that German swimmer Britta Steffen is lurking in this 100 free. For all of her speed in the 50, in the 100 she is able to control it so well on the front-half of this longer sprint. Whereas American Megan Romano looked to have this race all-but-sealed off the final turn, Steffen charged and made up half-a-body-length in the last 25 to take the win in 52.31.
Romano was 2nd in 52.48, moving her into the top-25 in history in this event and to earn a silver medal. The former NAG Record holder in the 100 free has done well in other events (the 200 free, the backstrokes, the 400 free), but ultimately seems to be tending back toward this 100 as she matures.
China’s Yi Tang ended up in bronze in 52.73; that highlights how relatively week this year’s sprint field is as compared to 2010. Only three swimmers were under 53 seconds in this final (as compared to 7 in Dubai).
Germany’s Daniela Schreiber took 4th in 34.05 and Australia’s Angie Bainbridge was 5th in 53.09. The other American, Jessica Hardy, was 7th in 53.52.
Men’s 50 Fly – SEMIFINAL
Brazil has the two best 50 butterfliers in the world in Nicholas dos Santos and Cesar Cielo (not in this meet), but can’t seem to muster one even close to that level in the 100. Dos Santos broke his own Meet Record with a 22.23 in this semi-final to take the top seed; that broke his 22.40 from the prelims (also done by Albert Subirats in 2010).
Dos Santos was .35 seconds ahead of the next-fastest qualifier, American Tom Shields in 22.58. That’s a massive margin given what we’ve seen in the other 50’s so far this met. He, however, is a master of slow-playing heat swims, so a best time should be coming in finals. Shields’ swim broke an American Record that was a 22.71 from Ian Crocker in 2005 (a record that needed to be broken – it was one of the United States’ worst).
French swimmer Fred Bousquet was 3rd in 22.61, and Chad le Clos (winner of the 100) filed in behind in a best time of 22.70. Slovenian short course specialist Peter Mankoc is the 5th seed in 22.82.
American Ryan Lochte scratched this 50 after taking bronze in the 100.
Women’s 200 Back – FINAL
The Ukraine’s Daryna Zevina, despite showing some improved speed in the last year or so, is still a 200 backstroker at heart; after a disappointing swim in the 100 meter final, she bounced back with a 2:02.24 to win this 200 back by almost a body-length. That’s about three-tenths slower than she was at Europeans a few weeks ago.
For the second-straight day, an American teenager medal’ed in a women’s backstroke race. This time it was Arizona freshman Bonnie Brandon in 2:03.19. Spain’s Duane Da Rocha was 3rd in 2:04.15.
Britain’s Lizzie Simmonds had a big opening to medal in this 200 back, but after leading at the first 50, she faded to 2nd at the next, 3rd at the one after, and ultimately 5th in 2:04.55. The Brits seem to be taking to a strategy of sprinting out hard, but this time it didn’t pay off.
Men’s 200 Breast – FINAL
We talked about Daniel Gyurta’s winning streak before the Olympics, but here’s a brief upset: he’s still seems nearly unbeatable in this 200 breaststroke (even though his WR was broken in post-Olympic competition).
Gyurta broke the Meet Record in this race by almost two seconds with a 2:01.35; the old record was held by Japan’s Naoya Tomita from 2010 in 2:03.12.
Since the conclusion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Gyurta has won Olympic gold, both long course World Championships, four European Championships, and now a World Short Course Championship. That atones for 2010, where he had one of his only stumbles by taking just silver in this event.
The top three swimmers in this race all actually broke the old Meet Record. Great Britain’s Michael Jamieson took 2nd in 2:03.00. He seems to have turned a corner toward the elite after a surprise Olympic silver. Russia’s Viatcheslav Sinkevich was 3rd in 2:03.08.
That left long course World Record holder Akihiro Yamaguchi off of the podium, just barely, in 2:03.23; his short course swimming still needs some work. The top 7 in this race were all very fast, in 2:03.6’s or better (including 6th-place finisher Clark Burckle from the U.S.).
Women’s 50 Fly – FINAL
The Chinese women have never won a World Championship medal in the 50 fly. They’ve won plenty in the 100 and 200 meter medals, but never in this shortest of the butterfly events.
2012 is a new story, though, as they took both gold and silver in this race. Ying Lu won in 25.14 and Liuyang Jiao was 2nd in 25.23.Those swims were both under the old Chinese and Asian Records of 25.34, also held by Lu.
Jeanette Ottesen-Gray, with a powerful start, emerged first off of the blocks, but fell to 3rd in 25.55. Canadian 16-year old Noemie Thomas was 4th in 25.60, finishing just ahead of American swimmers Christine Magnuson (25.70) and Claire Donahue (25.88).
Men’s 400 Free – FINAL
Germany’s Paul Biedermann continues to excel at this meet, improving his silver in the 200 free to a bronze here in the 400. This was a fury of a finish, as going into the last 50 he was a full second-and-a-half behind China’s Yun Hao. Biedermann, though, closed in 25.19 as Hao wasn’t great coming home (27.00) to overtake for the victory.
That finish got the crowd in Istanbul lit up as brightly as we’ve seen them at this meet so far. Biedermann’s winning time was 3:39.15, and Hao was 2nd in 3:39.48.
Denmark’s Mads Glaesner wasn’t able to make up the gap like Biedermann was (though he too was ahead of the German into the last lap) and finished with a bronze in 3:40.09.
American Michael Klueh was 5th in 3:41.29. After a pair of great swims on the 800 free relay, and with how good he was on the World Cup, he probably would have liked to be under 3:40 in this race as well. He took the swim out strong, and even though he continued to get faster toward the end of this race, he couldn’t put the same acceleration in as some of his counterparts.
Women’s 100 Breast – SEMIFINAL
Rikke Moeller Pedersen is in a good position in this 100 breaststroke with the top seed of 1:04.11; but one might imagine that after the display we saw in the 50 that Ruta Meilutyte (1:04.81) and Alia Atkinson (1:04.99) both have better swims in them for this afternoon.
Australia’s Sarah Katsoulis (1:05.12) and American Jessica Hardy (1:05.42) round out the top 5; both Swedish swimmers, Jennie Johansson and Rebecca Ejdervik will also get another swim in Saturday’s final.
Women’s 400 Free – FINAL
With Denmark’s Lotte friis misjudging the morrning pace and ending up out of the final, this women’s 400 free was wide open for gold. The pace ended up being relatively a slow one (especially as compared to the 800), and New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle unexplicably faded on the last 50 after finishing so well in the 800 one day earlier.
That left a battle between Spain’s Melanie Costa-Schmid and Chloe Sutton in a lunge for the wall. Costa-Schmid is quite a few inches taller than Sutton, and that’s perhaps what made the difference as the Spaniard took gold in 4:01.18 to Sutton’s 4:01.20.
Both out-touched Boyle, who earned a bronze just another tick behind in 4:01.24.
Russia’s Elena Sokolova was 4th in 4:01.49, a new Russian Record, and Jazz Carlin of the UK was 5th in 4:02.45, a new Welsh Record.
Men’s 50 Free – FINAL
The most anticipated final of the night, this men’s 50 free did not disappoint. Russian Vlad Morozov isn’t built like the typical huge sprinter that one might imagine would excel in a race such as this, but at just over 6-feet tall, he’s packed with power. He gets off of the blocks quick and doesn’t waste any time stuck on his walls. He roared to a stupendous finish, just missing Cesar Cielo’s Meet Record, in 20.55. That leaves him as the 5th-fastest swimmer in the history of this event.
There was only one obvious reason for Florent Manaudou to not keep up with Morozov: his start wasn’t nearly as good as his Olympic winning swim, and that accounted for the difference in this race. Manaudou took 2nd in 20.88, followed by the American Anthony Ervin in 20.99.
That gave Ervin the last laugh in a back-and-forth season with T&T swimmer George Bovell; Bovell was 4th in 21.03.
The 2nd American, Josh Schneider, was 5th in 21.38.
Women’s 100 IM – FINAL
Hungarian Katinka Hosszu was by far the most balanced of the swimmers in this 100 IM final, and in a race this short, there’s not enough time to compensate for even one weak leg. She fell a little bit behind the breaststrokers on the third 25, but saved plenty to explode through the freestyle finish and win in a new Meet Record of 58.49.
That broke the old mark held by American Ariana Kukors from 2010 at 58.65 (Kukors is another swimmer without a true weak leg on this IM).
Ruta Meilutyte re-broke her own Lithuanian Record with a 58.79; she had the fastest back-half of the entire field (in her two best races, breaststroke and freestyle) but was only 7th at the mid-way point. China’s Jing Zhao took a bronze in 58.80, overcoming a strong breaststroke charge from Alia Atkinson (58.85).
Men’s 200 IM – FINAL
This race was Ryan Lochte vs. himself the whole way. After a 50, he was almost a second up on the field. At the halfway mark, 1.3. Then, with a hammer-of-a-breaststroke leg, he declared the World Record to be bygone ambitions as it took a coast to the finish for a 1:49.63, a three-second margin, and a new global standard. (Read more about the record here).
Japan’s Daiya Seto was 2nd in 1:52.80 after overtakin Laszlo Cseh (1:52.89) in the final 50 metters. Australia’s Kenneth To was 4th in 1:53.42. For To, that’s a best time by more than a second, which is an encouraging sign going toward the 100 IM where his best hopes for gold lie (though it likely takes a World Record to beat Lochte there as well).
Women’s 400 Medley Relay – FINAL
As if hearts weren’t pounding hard enough after Lochte’s World Record, next came the women’s 400 medley relay.
This relay has been building for quite some time, with all of the pieces there. After how well they put things together at the European Championships, even without their best backstroker ever Mie Nielsen, this victory comes as less of a surprise than it feels like, even though it is the country’s first ever medal at a World Championshipielsen went out in 56.73, another new Danish Record for her and almost as fast as American Olivia Smoliga was to win the individual 100. That already put Denmark in the lead by half-a-second. Rikke Pedersen had her second great swim of the session with a 1:03.48; Jeanette Ottesen was 3rd in 56.49 on the fly leg, and Pernille Blume, hitting the water with almost a two-second gap, anchored in 53.17.
Though Blume’s swim was the 2nd-slowest freestyle leg of the whole field, nobody was going to overcome that margin, as the Australians took 2nd in 3:50.88 and the Americans were 3rd in 3:51.43. In fairness, neither the Americans or the Australians (who were 1-2 at the Olympics) had a single Olympic finals swimmer in this race while the Dane’s brought their A-relay; but it’s still going to be a headline-grabbing win back home.
The U.S. relay did get a big 51.90 anchor from Megan Romano – fastest of the field. Great Britain was 4th in 3:5.185 (with a 51.99 anchor from Fran Halsall), setting a new British Record.
The defending champions from China were 5th in 3:52.53.